Andrew McDonald
Coach Andrew McDonald is wary of hurting a strength by moving Steve Smith away from the No.4 spot. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

McDonald defends call to back experience over IPL form

Scott Bailey May 7, 2024

Andrew McDonald has defended the decision to bank on experienced international players over IPL form, adamant it is Australia’s best option for the T20 World Cup.

Australia have placed the trust in their long-term players for next month’s tournament, with Steve Smith one of the few experienced campaigners overlooked.

Jake Fraser-McGurk was the most notable absentee, despite blitzing the IPL in recent weeks and his strike-rate of 233.33 the best of any top-order player.

Those runs have come as scoring rates drastically increased across the IPL, with eight team scores above 250 with the introduction of the Impact Player rule. 

Matt Short also missed Australia’s squad, despite being the BBL’s MVP for a second time this summer and topping the run-scorer’s lists with 541 at an average of 60.11.

Instead David Warner held his spot for his farewell tournament despite a suboptimal IPL, where Fraser-McGurk took his spot while the veteran battles a finger injury.

“We feel as though in the last four months, in particular in the white-ball space, we’ve given plenty of opportunities to other players,” McDonald said. 

“Have we gone back to the tried and tested in terms of World Cups and performers that we know can poor perform on that stage? There’s no doubt about that. 

“It’s players who have been there before and done it. And are still in good form. You look at David Warner in the last 15 games for Australia. His record is outstanding.”

In total, there are three changes to Australia’s squad from the home T20 World Cup in 2022, with Smith, Kane Richardson and the retired Aaron Finch out for Josh Inglis, Nathan Ellis and Travis Head.

Australia’s three frontline Test quicks were also all selected, despite conjecture around their combination in T20 cricket during the last short-form World Cup.

But McDonald pointed to Australia’s recent record as to why selectors had gone with experience, winning 12 of their last 17 T20s.

“You look at David Warner’s performance against West Indies (last summer), and other players through our international build in … we’ve been performing really well,” he said. 

“We’ve got good connection within that team. And I think that goes a long way.

“These players have played together a lot. They’re experienced. And we feel like whatever problem presents in that tournament, that we’ll be able to solve that. 

“The proof will be in how we go in the tournament. We will be critiqued in hindsight after the tournament, no doubt about that.”

McDonald’s comments came as Fraser-McGurk conceded he had not yet earned the right to play in a World Cup, and that Australia were right to stick with Warner, Head and Mitch Marsh as their top three.

“It didn’t really bother me a hell of a lot because I wasn’t in this position to … feel like I’ve earned that yet,” Fraser-McGurk told the Willow Talk podcast. 

“World Cup cricket is a lot different to IPL and franchise cricket.”